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Something for Everyone at Shire Wars

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-08-21 20:43

Shire Wars will be held October 16 to 18, 2015, in the incipient Shire of Archer’s Ford (mundanely Jonestown, PA). Thane Alexander Makcristyne has written this description of the planned activities. Please visit the event announcement for more information.

For the past five years the Westernmost Shire of the Southern Region has been getting together and holding an event known as Shire Wars. This year things are little different, in that more Shires and the Barony of Bhakail have joined the event to make it even larger. This year this Shires of Montevale, Blak Rose, Owlsherst, Silver Rylle, Hartshorn-Dale, Buckland Cross, and Archer’s Ford (incipient) have joined up to challenge Bhakail and any ally she may bring to a David vs Goliath type themed event. But who is David and who is Goliath? Well, that is for you, the Good People of the East Kingdom, to find out by coming to the event. Root for your favorite side or join that side, whichever you prefer. But, wait! There have been rumors that invasion may happen from the South and from the West, since the Southern region is engaged with itself and not protecting the Southern and South Western Boarders. For this reason, their Highnesses, rightful heirs to the Crown, are coming to this event to find out what is going on and further help protect this great Kingdom. Will there be battle between the Shires and Bhakail, or will there be a raid where Bhakail and the Shires join forces behind their King and push back the invaders?

There will be field battles of Heavy Weapons and Fencing as well as tournaments for both. Tournaments for Thrown Weapons, Archery, Atlatl and A&S will also be held. There are also going to be youth activities, such as Youth Fencing and Youth Heavy Weapons. The gentler side such as A&S will have Classes to keep the minds of those interested in the arts churning with new ideas. This all ends with a Court shortly followed by a great feast and dancing. So please come and have a good time with us!

Filed under: Archery, Arts and Sciences, Events, Fencing, Heavy List, Thrown Weapons, Youth Activities Tagged: Archer's Ford, Blak Rose, Buckland Cross, Hartshorn-dale, Montevale, Owlsherst, Silver Rylle

Oldest message in a bottle found in Germany

History Blog - Fri, 2015-08-21 19:26

There’s a new contender for oldest message in a bottle. This one was found by retired postal worker Marianne Winkler when it washed up on the shore of the German island of Amrum on the North Sea coast. She was there on vacation, walking on the beach, when she came across the clear bottle on April 17th.

A card inside invited the finder in big, bold red letters to “BREAK THE BOTTLE” but Marianne and her husband Holst first tried to open it without breaking the glass. When that proved impossible, they followed instructions. The message in the bottle was a postage-paid postcard that asked in English, German and Dutch for finders to answer questions about where they’d found the bottle and when. Everyone who sent their postcard to the Marine Biological Association (MBA) in Plymouth would earn one shiny shilling in reward. The Winklers photocopied the postcard, filling in the information as requested on the copy, then mailed the card and copy to the MBA.

MBA researchers were shocked to receive the Winklers’ missive. There was no date on the card, but they recognized it as one of 1020 bottles released from December 1904 through August 1906 by MBA council member and future president George Parker Bidder. Bidder was studying bottom water currents (currents just above the seabed) and sent out what he called “bottom bottles” to trace the movements of the currents and fish.

Bidder’s experiment revealed a number of interesting results, one being that it confirmed the view of naturalists who supposed that bottom feeders tend to move against the current. He concluded that the main drift in all his series of bottle releases seemed to be in the opposite direction to the migration of plaice at the same time of year. Moreover, Bidder expressed the opinion that the percentage of bottles recovered by the trawls did not differ from the percentage of plaice in the same area caught by the trawl at the same time. This meant that Bidder could use the bottles as an instrument for assessing the intensity of trawling because they cannot migrate.

What was probably his most significant finding from his experiments was that many of his bottom-trailers got cast on the English shore, whereas surface bottles would, for the most part go across the North Sea. He deduced, regarding the bottom flow, “that the isochrones of the stream-front were shaped on the shoreline; and such a formation of the bottom current suggested the creeping-in of heavy water.”

Most of the bottles were retrieved by trawlers in the year immediately after their release and researchers assumed the rest were long gone, destroyed or in the open ocean. It’s been years since any cropped up, so many years that nobody even knows when the last one was found. This bottle has traveled more than 600 nautical miles over 108 years, making it the oldest known message in a bottle.

The official record-holder for oldest message in a bottle, found 99 years and 43 days after its 1914 release, was also released as part of a study of undercurrents. It was one 1,890 bottles released by the Glasgow School of Navigation to map the currents around Scotland and it seems to have understood its brief well because it was retrieved from the waters west of the Shetland Islands.

It’s not really the oldest message in a bottle, though. The message from a German hiker found by Baltic fishermen last year was released in 1913 and floated for almost 101 years, and one found in British Columbia in 2013 was released in September of 1906 by a passenger on a steamer traveling from San Francisco to Bellingham, Washington. The Baltic message hasn’t been confirmed as a record yet, and the finder of the bottle in Canada didn’t want to open it for fear of damaging it, so even though he said he was planning on writing the Guinness World Records committee, unless he was willing to open the bottle its age couldn’t be confirmed.

The Winkler’s bottle is older than both of them. The latest it could have been released was a month before the one found in British Columbia was released, and it stayed in the water two years longer. I know the records committee isn’t in the business of judging quality, but perhaps there should be some distinction made between bottles released in oceanographic studies and ones released by individuals. The odds of one of thousands of bottles surviving a century are obviously significantly higher than the odds of a single bottle surviving, and when you think “message in a bottle,” mass-mailings aren’t really what come to mind. The fascination of the message in a bottle relies on the romantic image of one person casting his or her thoughts into the world in the hope that someone somewhere might find it.

The MBA has submitted its candidate for the oldest message in a bottle to the Guinness Book of World Records and are waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, they made good on Bidder’s promise. They found a period English shilling on eBay and sent it to the Winklers.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Polling Responses due Sunday, Aug.23

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-08-21 12:04

Their Highnesses, Brennan & Caoilfhionn, issued Their first round of Award Order Pollings on July 21, and responses are due back to Them by this Sunday, August 23.

This is just a friendly reminder to complete and submit your replies!

Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: awards, pollings

Kingdom Thrown Weapons Championship at Hunter’s Moon

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-08-21 07:10

Come and let the dead hear our battle cries! Come and celebrate the Celtic Day of the Dead in the Shire of Hartstone! The theme will be Celtic Britain, which will be reflected in the activities during the day.

Æthelmearc throwers! A challenge is issued! Take up your axes, spears, and knives, as the KINGDOM THROWN WEAPONS CHAMPIONSHIP will be held here on this day at 12pm! Test yourself on the range and see if you have what it takes to be a champion!

Rattan combatants! Fencers all! Take up your weapons and, starting at 12pm, take part in our matched forms best of three counted blows bouts in a pas d’arms at the barricade! There will also be heavy weapons and fencing tournaments and melees throughout the day to keep the fighters on their toes! The tournaments for the heavy lists include a bear pit round robin, a Celtic/Dark Ages weapons only tourney (6 foot spear, round shield, single handed sword, great axe, single handed ax, mace, etc.), a single elimination long sword tournament, and a “Day of the Dead” themed tourney. Melees include a tavern battle, a woods battle, and a limited front battle.

If you don’t fence, throw, or fight, there will be plenty to do! There will be a full dayboard, period games, archery contests, good company, music, a glorious period feast, A&S competitions, a variety of classes, dancing, and much more!

The celebration of the Hunter’s Moon will begin with the opening of troll at 8am on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 at the Andover Rod and Gun Club at 597 Kilbane Road, Andover New York, 14806. The event will conclude at 10pm. Camping will NOT be available for the night before or after the event. Site is discreetly damp.

The heavy list and fencing fields will open for authorizations, pick ups, and inspections at 10am. Thrown weapons and archery ranges will open at 10am for practice and authorizations.

For more information, please contact the autocrat THL Beatrix Krieger (MKA Andrea Glass at 30 Park Drive Hornell New York 14843) at alglass21@gmail.com or by phone at (516) 395-6047. No calls before 9am or after 9pm, please.

For reservations for feast, dietary concerns or questions, please contact our feastocrat Lady Abagail (MKA Gail Kellogg Hope) at auroraasleep100@yahoo.com.

Entry will be $10 for adults, $5 per child aged 3-17 years. Feast will be an additional $5. There will also be a $5 non-membership surcharge. $30 family cap. Babes in arms get in free. Please make all checks for per-registration or feast reservation to PO Box 45, Kanona, NY 14856. All checks are to be made payable to SCA NY, Inc. – Shire of Hartstone.


Categories: SCA news sites

Pennsic War Point Tally

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2015-08-20 20:03

A final tally of the Pennsic war points was reported by the East Kingdom Gazette.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Mother meets daughter 70 years after war tore them apart

History Blog - Thu, 2015-08-20 19:16

A little balm for the soul is in order, I think, and a mother meeting her daughter for the first time 70 years after she was taken from her just after birth during World War II definitely qualifies.

While still a teenager, Gianna (she prefers to remain anonymous) left her hometown of Novellara in northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna province to work in Germany. Italy and Germany were still allies then, and many Italian women were recruited as labourers. She worked in a factory in Eberbach where she met and fell in love with a young Nazi soldier. After Italy signed an armistice with the Allies in September of 1943, the Italian labourers found themselves stuck in Germany under significantly less cordial circumstances. They were converted to forced-labour status and moved into camps. Gianna got pregnant and gave birth in October 1944 only to have her parental custody revoked a month later and her infant daughter taken from her by the Nazi Welfare and Juvenile Office.

When the war ended, Gianna returned home, certain her daugher and the baby’s father were dead. In fact, the baby girl had spent a short time in a children’s home before her father, still very much alive, “adopted” her. Unbeknownst to Gianna, the soldier had been married all along. He brought his daughter home and he and his wife raised her and the seven half-siblings born after the war. Margot Bachmann, as the baby girl was named, was told only that her mother was Italian and dead. Her strict father forbade her to ask any questions about her parentage.

She had an inkling even as a youngster that there was something off about this story, but her father was so adamant that she not look into it that even as an adult she was intimidated. It was only after his death two years ago and with the encouragement of her daughter that she began to break free of the psychological chains and seriously contemplate searching for the truth about her mother, never expecting to find her still alive. With the wreckage of war to sift through, Margot hit a few walls before finally finding her certificate of baptism that recorded her mother’s name.

Armed with the precious name, Margot contacted the German Red Cross who put her in touch with International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, an organization dedicated to reuniting families torn apart by war. ITS has a vast archive of 30 million documents — original papers, thousands of envelopes with personal effects like wallets, correspondence files and much more — pertaining to victims of Nazi camps, 90% of which have been digitized. After an extensive search, ITS was able to find Gianna’s name and information this July. Working with the Italian Red Cross’ Family Links Networks, they were then able to locate Margot’s mother, alive and in good health at 91 years old and still living in her hometown. Had she moved at any point in the past seven decades, they would probably never have found her.

Margot wrote her mother a letter:

“Dear Mum, my name is Margot Bachmann and I am your daughter, born on Oct 25 1944 in Heidelberg. All my life I asked my family about you, without being given any answers. I want to come and find you so that I can hug you once again. I’m immensely happy to be able to finally know you.”

The weekend before last, that dream came true and mother and daugher embraced for the first time.

Laura Bastianetto of the Italian Red Cross, who was there to witness the event, said Bachmann was moved to see her mother last weekend after so many years.

“The embrace took place in a small and modest house in Novellara — a little town in the north of Italy,” she said. “It was really emotional. There were Italian and German families together with a bottle of sparkling wine for celebrating this magic moment. Margot brought an album with pictures of her family. She was very touched by the meeting and she cried.”

During the encounter, according to Bastianetto, the mother said, “I’ve paid a lot, now I want to laugh.”

The fact that Gianna has asked not to be named or photographed is an ancillary cost of that high price she’s had to pay. Women who fraternized with Germans in occupied countries were not treated well after the war was over. There are stories from France, Norway, Italy, all over, of women being forced to parade through town with their heads shaved, spat upon and derided by crowds. They were ostracized for years, and it’s not so far in the past either. Norway just allowed its handful of surviving “German whores” to receive a state pension in 2005.

“I can understand [Gianna's] position,” said Elena Carletti, the mayor of Novellara. “In this village, people have not forgotten [the war]. Even my generation knows the names of those who, during the war, were for or against the Germans. These stories still weigh heavily on many families. This encounter between a mother and daughter reminds us of a complicated chapter of history.”

Margot is planning to visit her mother again as soon as possible.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

What is going on here? SCA Equestrian Tournaments, explained.

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-08-20 10:07
The following was submitted by Mistress Eleanor Fitzpatrick as a quick “what am I looking at/for” at equestrian tournaments. Please keep these tidbits in mind when watching this Saturday’s competition (or any future Equestrian competition).  The upcoming Equestrian Champions Tournament seemed a good occasion to write this brief guide about mounted tournaments.  Oftentimes it’s completely non-obvious what’s going on out on the field or why a particular competitor scored high or low, and that’s for good reason.  Equestrian competition is complex and subtle in many ways, and always changing. The first, most important, thing to realize when watching a mounted tournament is that you’re not watching a single competitor.  You’re watching a team.  This team consists of the rider, the horse, and often the groundcrew.

The Tournament:

Baroness Doucette de Verdun

Mistress Sylvia du Vey on Ginny vs Baroness Alanna of Skye on Tesoro

Equestrian competitions change from event to event and year to year.  There are several core elements that tend to show up again and again, like the quintain, rings, heads, pig-sticking and spear toss because they’re basic mounted combat or pre-jousting skills.  There are elements that appear less often, either because few equestrians enjoy them, nobody owns the equipment for them, or they’re boring to watch.  Each competition organizer is free to design a course however they like.  They could make it all straight lines within lanes, which is easiest for the horse and allows the rider to concentrate on targeting with the weapons.  They could put in lots of hairpin turns, and changes of gait and complex switching between different weapons forms.  They can add a lot of tests of horsemanship, like turning the horse in a very small circle without going outside the lines, or backing up around a turn, or requiring the horse to sidepass (move sideways without moving forward).  Some organizers publish the course and scoring rubrics in advance, some only give hints and some keep the whole thing secret until the day of competition.  Unlike some modern sports such as dressage or reining, there is no way to know what specifically you and your horse will be asked to do, so you practice everything you can and hope for the best.  Every competition starts with the organizing explaining the course and scoring to the assembled riders.  Some courses are ridden completely cold, in that the course is explained but the rider can neither walk the course nor ride it before their scoring run.  In those cases the first rider always has a bit of a handicap compared to the others and so many competition organizers will ride the course themselves first so that everyone has an equal chance to see how it works.  Most competitions allow for the riders to warm up on the course itself so every horse has a chance to see the obstacles and the riders can get an idea of the best way to approach the course that day.

Master Julian le Scot on Gaelen


Dove on Wilhelm with Baroness Doucette assisting

The ground crew are responsible for setting and resetting the course and for handing the weapons to the rider when necessary.   In a timed course, a good groundsman who can get the weapons to the rider efficiently can make several seconds difference in the score.  Of course, it’s the rider’s job to be in position and have their horse under control for the handoff, but an experienced groundsman can make that job easier.  If there are not sufficient ground crew to work the field that day, the riders will take turns doing it for each other.   This works well if there are multiple riders per horse so that one can be managing the horse while another is working the course, but it gets challenging as the ratio of riders to horses gets closer to 1:1.  Without ground crew, it’s extremely difficult to hold equestrian competitions.  Anybody can be ground crew – it’s a good way to get involved – and the equestrians are always looking for new crew as folks gain in experience and move up to becoming riders.

Rider: The rider is the primary of the team.  He or she is the one who has decided to do the competition in the first place.  If it were up to the horse the competitions would be to see who could eat the most grass, or sleep the longest in the sun.  Watching those would only be slightly less boring than watching paint dry. The rider is responsible both for riding the horse and for targeting with the weapons – catching the rings, hitting the heads, stabbing the hay bale. In theory, the rider is the one who decides what speed or gait they’ll be using as well.  In reality, it’s a complex, ever-changing negotiation between the horse and rider.  The rider may intend to do the quintain (the spinning arm) at a gallop, but the horse is tired and isn’t willing to move above a fast trot.  Or the rider had originally planning to spear the rings at a trot because he or she is more accurate that way, but their horse is super excited that day and so they compromise on a canter instead of a fast gallop.   Sir Alexis La Bouche from Ansteorra is fond of pointing out that SCA equestrian is 90% riding.  Weapons is what the rider gets to do the the 10% of attention left over.  A rider can have great hand-eye coordination and be able to spear a 2” ring with a 10’ lance easily, but if he or she leans so far to the right that the horse interprets it as a request to step sideways, they’re going to miss.

Master Julian and Mistress Sylvia and populace

Horse: Without the horse, there wouldn’t be equestrian competitions to watch.  Horses at SCA events run the gamut from very new to very experienced, both in “mundane” training and in SCA.  A horse can be very highly trained in a modern sport but be very new to the SCA, well-trained and very experienced at SCA game, very new both to being ridden *and* to the SCA, and anything in-between.  At an given equestrian competition you may see everything from very experienced riders racing swiftly around the course on very fast horses to new, timid riders walking the course on calm, quiet horses.  You may also see very experienced riders going slowly around a course because they’re training (or re-training) a horse who isn’t ready for speed.  Speed doesn’t do any good without accuracy and control, so a good rider will work to develop both of those in a horse first.  Horses are often shared between riders.  Owning a horse is very expensive and bringing them to events is a lot of work, so many owners develop relationships with riders who don’t have their own horses to share the work and expense in exchange for the chance to compete.  Not all horses are suitable for sharing – some simply won’t tolerate being ridden by more than “their” person, or they’re too difficult for most people to handle.  The best SCA equestrian horses are even-tempered and not easily spooked, but an excellent rider can often score well even partnered with a hot-headed, high-strung horse.  Horses that are calm and forgiving enough to be ridden by beginners are both rare and treasured.

Baroness Alanna of Skye on Tesoro

The equestrians of the East try hard to balance the desire to challenge themselves at events with the desire to put on a show that will delight and entertain the spectators.  Equestrian may have a high barrier to participation as a rider but everyone can watch and enjoy this little part of the Current Middle Ages just as their persona might have attended a tournament or a joust for the spectacle.  Please join us at the Royal Equestrian Champions Tournament this weekend and don’t hesitate to ask questions!
Filed under: Equestrian, Tidings Tagged: equestrian, events, Kings and Queens Champions

Oh No! Rock to the Face!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-08-19 21:42

A Shieldman’s View of the First-Ever Pennsic Siege and Combat Archery War Point Battle, from Baron Sir Thomas Byron of Haverford.

The first-ever Siege and Combat Archery War Point Battle was held on Tuesday of War Week. Although my wife (Sir Ariella) and I aren’t authorized in either of those forms, we noticed that there was a role for pavise carriers, so we donned our armour in support of Æthelmearc’s archers and engineers. We assumed that we would score no kills, but we could at least die gloriously so that an archer would feel compelled to avenge us.

The night before the battle, we sat in camp reading the rules of engagement. We were permitted to carry our own shields in lieu of pavises, and we were permitted thrown weapons such as hand axes, javelins, and rocks.  Those of you who remember the peasant battles in previous wars will recall that “rocks” are toilet paper rolls covered in duct tape. I’m not sure if this is what the rulemakers intended, but we thought it was worth a try. As spearmen, we are frequently (oh, so frequently) shot by archers, and I thought to myself, “If I could crush just one combat archer’s face in with a rock, it would be a lovely turnabout.”

Sir Koredono supplied the toilet paper, and Duke Christopher covered them in duct tape. None of the marshals were quite sure how to inspect our rocks (ahem), but they eventually decided that we couldn’t possibly hurt anyone.

The time came to explain the rules to all of the participants: Unlimited resurrection; siege weapons could only attack siege weapons; archers could only attack archers or shields; shields could only attack other shields. It appeared that our scheme was doomed. But then, another fighter asked if thrown weapons could be used on archers. The issue was put to a vote, and by unanimous assent, our rocks were given the seal of approval for use against archers.

Ariella and I each went onto the field with one rock in hand, and 3 rocks hidden behind our shields. The troops on each side formed into units composed of about 4 archers and about 4 shields. Units would face off against each other at a distance of about 20 feet. Unfortunately, 20 feet was too far to throw a rock – we needed to be right next to the target, and to hit directly in the face.  A blow to the body would never be noticed  When I approach an enemy unit, they ignored me, as I was merely a shield carrier and thus no viable threat. When I got next to an archer, I shouted “Oh no!”  He turned to face me, and I threw the rock point-blank into his face, saying “Rock to the face!” After a moment of shocked silence, he turned toward his resurrection point. I gleaned my rock from the ground, then approached the next archer and repeated the procedure. Each time I shouted “Oh no!” a single opponent would turn to face me, but everyone else in the unit would remain focused on the unit across from them.  It was thus that the entire unit fell to a single rock. My teammates watched this in shocked silence, but soon everyone on the field was laughing along with us.

After 2 more units fell in the same way, our opponents understood the potential, and rocks were flying in both directions. I’m not sure that I have ever seen heavy combat as amusing as a rock-and-shield duel. Shouts rang out across the battlefield such as “Look out!  She’s got a rock!” and “Hey!  Put that down! That’s my rock!”  Rock-less shieldmen were forced into elaborate dances to protect their archers I’ve never been so happy to be shot in the neck, as when I was threatening an archer with a rock in my hand.

In the end, it was the prowess of  Æthelmearc’s archers and siege engineers, and the support of our Allies, that won the battle. The rocks were a fun distraction, and our opponents received them with good grace and camaraderie. I’m not sure that this was the battle everyone was expecting, but I hope that everyone who participated in this War Point will remember it for a very long time. And remember:  if someone from Æthelmearc comes up to you and shouts, “Oh no!” the proper response is “Rock to the face!”

Categories: SCA news sites

Khaled al-Asaad. Archaeologist. Hero.

History Blog - Wed, 2015-08-19 14:21

I haven’t posted about the nightmare of IS’ systematic destruction and looting for profit of antiquities in territories under their control because it’s so horrifying I can barely stand to read the headlines, never mind do the additional research necessary for a post. Every new outrage is covered in excruciating detail by press outlets everywhere anyway, so I thought this blog might provide a little respite from the onslaught instead of adding to it. Today’s news requires that I make an exception.

Khaled al-Asaad, archaeologist, author and longtime director of antiquities and museums in Palmyra, Syria, was murdered by Islamic State fanatics yesterday. He was 82 years old. He was beheaded in front of an assembled crowd near the ancient ruins he spent his life studying and protecting. His body was then reportedly strung up on one of the Roman columns in Palmyra that he had helped restore with a placard listing his “crimes,” namely apostasy, loyalty to and regular communication with the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, representing Syria at conferences with “infidels” and being the director of Palmyra’s collection of “idols.” There are photographs that purport to be of his bloodied, decapitated body in other locations around the city as well.

While IS militants like to film themselves destroying archaeological sites and artifacts for propaganda purposes, the vast majority of their offenses against history are the same as any other criminal organization’s: the looting and sale of antiquities on the black market. They’ll sledgehammer a few statues in a museum on camera to make it look like they’re principled religious fanatics bringing down idols, but filthy lucre wins over so-called principles any day.

Asaad was involved in the transfer of the museum’s portable antiquities — the artifacts IS likes to steal to fund their wars — to comparative safety in Damascus. Before his death, he was held by militants who had heard some absurd rumor that ancient gold artifacts had been buried in the ruins instead of being shipped out with everything else. They interrogated him for over a month, by what atrocious means we do not know, but he refused to speak.

From a statement by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova:

“They killed him because he would not betray his deep commitment to Palmyra,” the Director-General said. “Here is where he dedicated his life, revealing Palmyra’s precious history and interpreting it so that we could learn from this great city that was a crossroads of the ancient world. His work will live on far beyond the reach of these extremists. They murdered a great man, but they will never silence history.”

A former colleague of his, Amr al-Azm, told The Guardian:

“He was a fixture, you can’t write about Palmyra’s history or anything to do with Palmyrian work without mentioning Khaled Asaad. It’s like you can’t talk about Egyptology without talking about Howard Carter.”

The Guardian also has a lovely article written by Jonathan Tubb, Assistant Keeper of the British Museum’s Middle East Department and a good friend of Asaad’s that testifies to his warmth, generosity and passion for the history of his native city.

When I was a kid, the notion of the archaeologist hero was defined by Indiana Jones, the swashbuckling adventurer saving treasures from Nazis and heart-extracting cult leaders. But Indiana Jones is fiction and if he weren’t he’d be a looter. A man who spends half a century dedicated to the study of his beautiful city’s rich history, excavating its ancient glories and sharing them with the world in museums and books; a man who, when the storm of violence approaches, works assiduously to hide those priceless artifacts from the monsters who would destroy them or disperse them into the hands of greedy, amoral collectors around the world; a man who then refuses to leave the city even though he knows he will almost certainly be a target of said monsters; a man who, at 82 years of age, sustains a month of God knows what kind of interrogation methods without breaking; a man who gives his life for love of history. That man is the hero.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic A&S War Point

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-08-19 12:22

Work of Naomi bat Avraham. Photo courtesy of Naomi bat Avraham

The Gazette thanks Mistress Amy Webbe for writing the following account of the A&S War Point at our request.

On a bright, sunny morning, far too early for Pennsic time, a diverse group of SCAdians waited anxiously outside of the Aethelmaerc Royal encampment, hoping Hospitality would soon let them in.

Work of Osazuwa nKante. Photo Couresy of Naomi bat Avraham

They had gathered for an unusual reason, this war: they were competitors and coordinators for the A&S War Point, only the second in Pennsic history. The war point was the brainchild of Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle of Aethelmaerc, and indeed, they had done something similar when they last sat the Eastern Throne during the summer reign. Assisted by the enthusiastic support of Our Majesties Etheldreda and Omega, and Their Majesties Ragnvaldr III and Arabella III of the Middle Kingdom, they wished to give the Society Artisans a place to shine.
The rules were simple: bring 7 artisans from your Kingdom, let them set up in a 4 foot space, and let Laurels and Mauches (or your Kingdom’s equivalent) vote.

Work of Lissa Underhill. Photo courtesy of Naomi bat Avraham

The seven representatives from the East were: Agatha Wanderer; Lissa Underhill; Naomi bat Avraham; Katheryn Fontayne; Osazuwa nKante; Rosina von Schaffhausen; and Guthfrith Yrlingson. Our artisans represented a variety of interests- fiber arts, historical clothing, casting, armoring, woodblock printing, and lampworking beads. As coordinator for the East, I still admit to being fully biased in favor of the skill of our artisans, and was completely confident that

Work of Rosina von Schaffhausen. Photo courtesy of Naomi bat Avraham

they could out score any artisans from any other Kingdom, any time, any place. However, as other artisans began to set up, I did feel a little less confident. Creative displays from an amazing variety of areas soon filled the tents- embroidery, sugar work, paintings and illumination…One of the most eye-catching displays was a large, hand made spinning wheel, from an artist in Atlantia- and that was the ALTERNATE offering from Atlantia! I knew we had our work cut out for us.

Work of Katheryn Fontayne; Photo courtesy of Katheryn Fontayne

Over 400 voters came through the door- each was given three glass beads to put in the cup of their top three choices, and it was amusing and touching to see how thoughtfully they carried out their voting- it was not uncommon to see someone an hour after they had first come in, still clutching one or two beads, completely torn over where to place it! Exhibits were intended to be anonymous- no names on anything, and the artisans were not present with their work, so the voting was as blind as we could make it.

Work of Agatha Wanderer Photo courtesy of Naomi bat Avraham

Finally, the voting time was over- which meant the tallying of over 1200 (sometimes teeny tiny) beads. Their Majesties East, Mid, and Aethelmaerc assembled, and each spoke encouraging words about the skill and knowledge displayed there today. They also spoke of the need for the A&S War Point to continue, something they plan to discuss with Their Heirs’ Heirs.

Work of Guthfrith Yrlingson. Photo courtesy of Guthfrith Yrlingson

The final results were in: The East-Mid alliance dominated the War Point, 721 votes to 521 votes. Two of the top three artisans on the East-Mid team came from the East: Naomi bat Avraham with her printing, and Lissa Underhill, with her lampwork beads. All of our Artisans carried themselves well, and represented the East proudly. I could breathe easily again, knowing the Eastern Skill had carried the day!


Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Pennsic

Board of Directors Accepting Applications for President of SCA, Inc. Position

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-08-19 09:45

Leslie Vaughn, President of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., has announced that the SCA Board of Directors is now accepting applications for the position of President of the SCA Inc.

The Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. is currently accepting applications for the position of President of the SCA Inc. This is a position requiring approximately 10-20 hours per week and includes a stipend.

The President is the principal spokesperson for the SCA, Inc. This officer is a liaison between the SCA, Inc. and outside professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and insurance representatives. This officer is a contact for the SCA, Inc. for law enforcement, government agencies, and claimants against the SCA, Inc.

The President works with the Vice President of Corporate Operations to coordinate much of the day-to-day modern operation of the Corporation, and supervises and facilitates communication between many of the Society Officers.

The President is required to execute contracts necessary to properly conduct the SCA’s business, and may delegate similar responsibilities. The President is also responsible for such legal matters as contracts and merchandising. The President advises the Board of Directors on areas of corporate governance and policy issues. The President may be assigned other duties by the Board.

Qualifications for the position include excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to work independently to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines, and strong computer skills. Experience in a modern business setting, organizational ability, and problem-solving skills are a must. Experience in a modern non-profit organization and prior experience at the Corporate or Society level of the SCA are desirable, but not required.

Applicants must be available to attend quarterly meetings of the Board of Directors, typically held over a Friday and a Saturday. They must also be available for approximately four conference call meetings per year, typically during weekday evenings. As a great deal of the Board’s business occurs via the Internet, familiarity and basic skills with a computer, MS Office software (specifically Microsoft Word and Excel), and e-mail are required. The successful applicant must have reliable access to the Internet.

Hard copies of résumés (both professional and SCA, including offices held and awards received) must be sent to the attention of the Board and the President at the SCA Corporate Office, P.O. Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036-0789. Résumés must be received by Oct 1, 2015. Questions regarding this position may be directed to Scott Berk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SCA Inc. via e-mail at chairman@sca.org, or to Leslie Vaughn, President, via e-mail at president@sca.org.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to: SCA Inc. Box 360789 Milpitas, CA 95036

Categories: SCA news sites

Mass grave points to Early Neolithic massacres

History Blog - Tue, 2015-08-18 23:57

A mass grave discovered during road work in Schöneck-Kilianstädten, near Frankfurt, Germany, in 2006 is evidence of a massacre in a community of Early Neolithic farmers. The human remains were discovered by construction workers who alerted the University of Mainz to the find. Bioarchaeologist Christian Meyer and his team removed the bones in blocks of soil so they could be fully excavated and studied in laboratory conditions at the university. Radiocarbon testing of the skeletal remains found they date to between 5,207 and 4,849 B.C. That places them squarely in the Linearbandkeramik, or Linear Pottery, Culture (LBK) which flourished in central Europe from 5,500 to 4,500 B.C.

The bones were in very poor condition, most of them in fragments, but researchers were able to determine that the deceased had not been laid to rest in a respectful manner. There were no grave goods — a common feature in Neolithic burials — and no articulated remains. The bones of at least 26 people — 13 adults, one teen, two preteens and 10 children under six years old — were mixed up together in the one grave, indicating they had been thrown into a pit in a haphazard manner. Osteological analysis found extensive perimortem blunt force and arrow injuries on the bones. Arrowheads were also found amidst the remains. These people were slaughtered and then dumped in a mass grave.

This isn’t the first LBK massacre site discovered. Similar graves have been found in Talheim, Germany, and Asparn/Schletz, Austria, but the bones from the Schöneck-Kilianstädten show signs of mutilation that has not been detected at the other sites: the deliberate breaking of legs. More than half of the shin bones were intentionally broken, either by torture just before the victims died or by mutilation immediately after death.

All three LBK massacre sites date to around the same time and archaeologists have found no evidence that people of another culture were involved in the mass killings. This appears to be LBK-on-LBK violence.

Chris Scarre, an archaeologist at the University of Durham, England, who wasn't involved in the study, said its conclusions seemed well supported by the evidence.

"What is particularly interesting is the level of violence. Not just the suppression of a rival community — if that is what it was — but the egregious and systematic breaking of the lower legs," said Scarre. "It suggests the use of terror tactics as part of this inter-community violence."

LBK people were the first farmers in central Europe and the later age of the massacre sites suggest the populations may have come under pressure leading to escalating conflict and violence. No younger women were found in the Schöneck-Kilianstädten or the Asparn/Schletz graves, which could indicate a Sabine women-style abduction scenario. As for what the pressures may have been that spurred communities to violence, the study authors hypothesize that it was a combination of factors. From the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Although the underlying supraregional causes for the recognized increase in mass violence in the late LBK undoubtedly were complex and multifactorial, a significant increase in population followed by adverse climatic conditions (drought), possibly coupled with the inability of long-settled farmers to practice the avoidance behavior by which hunter-gatherers typically evade conflict, seem to have been important components of the overall picture.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Æthelmearc’s  Pennsic A&S War Point Champions

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-08-18 16:37

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the Pennsic Arts & Sciences War Point.

This Pennsic included a War Point for Arts and Sciences for only the second time in the history of the War. The first time an Arts & Sciences competition was a Pennsic War Point was 20 years ago, in the first reign of Timothy and Gabrielle as King and Queen of the East. Their Majesties and the entrants all hope we won’t have to wait so long for it to happen again after the success of this year’s competition.

Each side chose 14 champions (plus alternates) to represent them, with none being Laurels. The entrants displayed their items on Wednesday of War Week in Æthelmearc’s Royal Encampment. All items had to be anonymous as to both creator and kingdom. Gentles from all the Kingdoms of the Known World were invited to view the entries, and those with Arts and Sciences awards from their Kingdom were given three beads to bestow on the entries they liked best, either all to one entry or distributed among multiple entries. Judging took place from 9am to 3pm, and then the artisans were encouraged to return to stand by their entries and answer any questions that visitors might pose from 3 to 5 pm.

We proudly present an overview of the entries created by Æthelmearc’s Arts and Sciences Champions.

Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne of the Barony of Thescorre entered a calligraphed and illuminated page of music for the motet “Deus in Aujitorium” based on a folio from the Montpellier Code, a significant source of 13th and 14th century French polyphonic musical manuscripts. In her documentation, she discussed how she prepared the goatskin parchment, made quill pens, bought inks and paints made using medieval recipes, and gilded the piece with 24K loose leaf gold. You can read more about her entry here under the link “Preparing a Late Period Medieval Music Manuscript: Deus in Aujitorium.”

Scroll by Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Closeup of Lady Máirghréad’s scroll. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

THLady Álfrún ketta of the Shire of Sylvan Glen, who received the Fleur d’Æthelmearc at Kingdom Court the night before the competition, had an extensive collection of weaving samples based on finds from a variety of archaeological sites in Scandinavia. In a binder, she displayed numerous pages of photos of the period cloth on the left, with explanations about how each piece was made, along with a sample woven to match the original artifact on the right side. She also displayed larger samples of her weaving along with information about wool production (and the evolution of the Northern European sheep) as well as how wool was processed and used in period. You can read more about her entry on her website.

Viking weaving by THLady Álfrún ketta. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

THLady Renata la rouge of the Shire of Hartstone (formerly of Heronter) embroidered a 16th century sword hanger with a Pelican motif in metallic threads. It was originally inspired by a Swedish sword hanger from the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, 1594-1632, which is housed in the Collections of the Royal Armouries, Sweden, but the design is loosely based on a goldwork book cover from Cambridge, 1629, which includes a Pelican. The embroidery is of a raised nature, but the stitches are satin stitch and surface couching. You can read more about THL Renata’s entry here.

Metallic embroidered sword hanger by THLady Renata la rouge. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Lady Abigail Kelhoge of the Shire of Hartstone created a breeching gown, which was worn by both girls and boys during their toddler years throughout the High Middle Ages and Renaissance. It allowed them to walk and made diaper changing easier. The hand-sewn outfit included a biggin (white linen cap), a blackwork linen shirt with ruffles on the cuffs and collar, a long coat or petticoat with buttons down the front, and a long gown with hanging sleeves, fur-lined for warmth. More information about her entry is available on her website.

A child’s breeching gown by Lady Abigail Kelhoge. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Baron Artemius Andreas Magnus of the Barony of Delftwood created a stained glass panel based on a German piece at the Cloisters in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC that dates to 1260-1270. Measuring 9-1/16″ square, it’s an image of the Prophet King from a Tree of Jesse window. His Excellency spoke to a curator at the museum about the piece, in the process helping him to correct some errors in the information posted about it online. He made most of the lead cames by hand until his mold broke, then also made the stain for the details on the king’s face as well as the solder for the project, both using period recipes and techniques. You can read His Excellency’s documentation for the project here and here.

Stained glass by Baron Artemius Andreas Magnus. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Closeup of Baron Artemius’ stained glass. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Duke Christopher Rawlins of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, who was elevated to the Laurel the day after the competition, entered a 14th century arming jacket based on the one worn by Edward, the Black Prince, of England. His Grace visited the site of the Prince’s tomb in Canterbury and did extensive research into how the arming jacket was constructed. Then, through wearing multiple reproductions of it while fighting, Duke Christopher determined that it had to have been worn over the fighter’s arm harness rather than under it as is common among SCA fighters.

14th c. Arming Jacket by Duke Chrisopher Rawlins. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Lord Silvester Burchardt of the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais created a tablet woven brocaded band. According to Lord Silvester’s documentation, “Brocading is a technique that uses one or more secondary weft threads to create patterns on the surface of woven fabric. These additional weft threads are not a structural element of the fabric. Because the brocade threads bridge across the surface of the fabric, they need to be “tied down” to the fabric at various locations; these “tie down” points become an integral part of the design.” Rather than basing his design on a single exemplar, he chose to use a range of period pieces from central Europe in the 9th through 13th centuries as models, but designed the band to show his own animals (including chickens, ducks, a dog, and even a parakeet) as they actually appear in life. You can read more about his entry here.

Brocade tablet weaving by Lord Silvester Burchardt. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Lord Enzo de Pazi of the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael created an ornate bascinet for Duchess Eanor of Ealdormere, complete with ducal coronet and motto, chainmail aventail, and an elaborate faceplate. The helm is made of 4130 spring steel, commonly called “chromoly” in industrial terms. The motto was acid etched into the coronet, which was made of brass with cast bronze strawberry leaves.

Ducal Helmet by Lord Enzo de Pazi. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

THLady Jacqueline de Molieres of the Shire of Abhain Ciach Ghlais created a red velvet pouch with pearls sewn in the shape of a rose. Her Ladyship says in her documenation, “If you were a lady in the late Medieval period, a red velvet pouch embellished with pearls would… communicate to the world that this is a lady of wealth and importance. This pouch is not a replica of a particular item, but rather is made up of elements of various items; i.e., drawstring, beads, pearl appliqué, gold couched outline, tassel, etc. The time frame is 1450 to 1600. The area would be anywhere in Europe, most likely England, France or Germany.” You can read more about her entry here.

Pearled pouch by THLady Jacqueline de Molieres. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Donnchaidh.

THLord Ian O’Kennavain of the Shire of Heronter’s sugar soteltie was easily the largest entry in the competition. His Lordship noted, “I wanted to exhibit a few different ways to create sculpture from sugar, so the display is comprised of three main elements: a fountain of sugar paste, a 20 lb. turtle cast in “grained” sugar and a pear tree made from free-formed sugar paste over an armature of wire, printed sugar paste leaves and cast sugar plate pears.” The fountain’s design is based on one in Perugia, Italy called the Fontana Maggiore that was constructed between 1277 and 1278 by the sculptors Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. “Using this for inspiration, I crafted two octagonal basins depicting the arms of the 20 SCA Kingdoms and the 4 peerages topped with a column supported bowl shaped basin.” You can learn more about his entry here.

Sugar soteltie by THLord Ian O’Kennavain. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Closeup of THLord Ian’s rosewater fountain soteltie. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

THLord Kieran MacRae of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands designed an ornate calligraphed page based on  folio 67 of the 16th century Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta. The capitals are created to function as an H, N, and R. There was no illumination as the entry focused on the calligraphy of the original artist, Georg Bocskay, imperial secretary to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. The scroll was a tiny 6.5″ x 4.75″ in size. To learn more, click here.

Calligraphy by THLord Kieran MacRae. Photo by Lord Kieran.

Closeup of THL Kieran’s scroll. Photo by THL Kieran.

Baroness Betha Symonds of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands created wire wrapped hooks. These are based on items from archeological finds ranging from Viking age to Tudor English. These hooks could have been used for a variety of purposes; one set was found near the legs in a Viking burial, leading scholars to believe they might have been used to fasten wrapped leggings. You can read Her Excellency’s documentation here.

Viking wire weaving clasps by Baroness Betha Symonds. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworthe created a piece of tablet-woven trim based on a band found among the relics of Chelles Abbey. Chelles Abbey was founded in 658 by Queen Bathilde, wife of Clovis II, on the ruins of an old chapel belonging to Queen Clothtilde, wife of Clovis I in 511. Her Excellency says in her documentation, “I wanted something in a warp float technique (also known as Snartemo style) for its high level of complexity, and because I enjoy weaving this technique.” Viscountess Rosalinde is an Æthelmearc treaty subject who has lived in Nithgaard and Thescorre, and soon will be moving to the Debatable Lands. More information about her entry is available here

Tablet weaving by Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworth. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Lady Sumayya al Ghaziyah of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands was an alternate champion. She crafted 16th c. Ottoman Turkish leather slippers with inlaid designs, along with wood and leather nalin, which were used by women in bathhouses to keep the wearer above the soap and water of the bathhouse floor. You can read more about her entry here.

Leather slippers and wood and leather nalins by Lady Sumayya al Ghaziyah. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.

Of course, these are just the Æthelmearc Champions. The East and Middle had their own champions, and they did win the War Point. But we’ll let their Kingdoms tell their stories.

Categories: SCA news sites

Call for Applicants – President, SCA, Inc.

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-08-18 14:47

President, SCA. Inc.
Leslie Vaughn, President of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., has announced that the SCA Board of Directors is now accepting applications for the position of President of the SCA Inc.
The Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. is currently accepting applications for the position of President of the SCA Inc. This is a position requiring approximately 10-20 hours per week and includes a stipend.
The President is the principal spokesperson for the SCA, Inc. This officer is a liaison between the SCA, Inc. and outside professionals such as attorneys, accountants and insurance representatives. This officer is a contact for the SCA, Inc. for law enforcement, government agencies, and claimants against the SCA, Inc.

The President works with the Vice President of Corporate Operations to coordinate much of the day-to-day modern operation of the Corporation, and supervises and facilitates communication between many of the Society Officers.

The President is required to execute contracts necessary to properly conduct the SCA’s business, and may delegate similar responsibilities. The President is also responsible for such legal matters as contracts and merchandising. The President advises the Board of Directors on areas of corporate governance and policy issues. The President may be assigned other duties by the Board.

Qualifications for the position include excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to work independently to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines, and strong computer skills. Experience in a modern business setting, organizational ability and problem-solving skills are a must. Experience in a modern non-profit organization and prior experience at the Corporate or Society level of the SCA are desirable, but not required.

Applicants must be available to attend quarterly meetings of the Board of Directors, typically held over a Friday and a Saturday. They must also be available for approximately four conference call meetings per year, typically during weekday evenings. As a great deal of the Board’s business occurs via the Internet, familiarity and basic skills with a computer, MS Office software (specifically Microsoft Word and Excel), and e-mail are required. The successful applicant must have reliable access to the Internet.

Hard copies of résumés (both professional and SCA, including offices held and awards received) must be sent to the attention of the Board and the President at the SCA Corporate Office, P.O. Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036-0789. Résumés must be received by Oct 1, 2015. 

Questions regarding this position may be directed to Scott Berk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SCA Inc. via e-mail at chairman@sca.org, or to Leslie Vaughn, President, via e-mail at president@sca.org.
Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to: SCA Inc. Box 360789 Milpitas, CA 95036

Filed under: Uncategorized

30 euro “art craft” is $15 million Picasso

History Blog - Mon, 2015-08-17 22:54

A package described on the shipping label as an “art craft” worth 30 euros ($37) turns out to have been a stolen Picasso worth $15 million. The package was sent to the US from Belgium last December and was opened by customs agents at the Port of Newark who were acting on a lead. The sender’s name was listed only as “Robert” and the destination address was a climate-controlled warehouse in Queens. Because the statements on the label and the commercial invoice describing it as an “art craft/toy” were false, the painting was seized. Authorities have made no comment on any current investigation of the theft and attempted smuggling, who the “Robert” in Belgium might be, who the recipient in the United States was meant to be.

On January 30th, experts authenticated the work as La Coiffeusse (The Hairdresser), an early cubist piece painted by Picasso in 1911. It was once owned by art historian and hero of two world wars Georges Salles who bequeathed it to the National Museums of France after his death in 1966. Salles’ mother was Claire Eiffel, daughter of engineer Gustave Eiffel of tower fame, so from a young age he was traveled in high cultural circles. He studied literature and law and school and immersed himself in the rich artistic world of pre-war Paris. He fought for France in World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre twice. After the war he become the Louvre’s curator of Asian Art. He was the director of the Guimet Museum in Paris when World War II broke out. Again he fought for his country, this time in the French Resistance, and was instrumental in keeping the irreplaceable artistic patrimony of France’s museums out of Nazi hands. His efforts won him yet another Croix de Guerre.

Salles was a close friend of Picasso’s. There are four drawings of Salles by Picasso in the National Museums bequest, and it was Salles who persuaded Picasso to directly donate several major works to the National Museums. After Salles’ death, his Picassos were assigned to the Musée National d’Art Moderne in the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, among them La Coiffeusse. The painting was not on display when it disappeared. The last time it was exhibited was at the Kunsthalle Munich in 1998 after which it returned to the Pompidou Center where it was kept in storage. Only when another institution inquired about a possible loan of the piece in 2001 did museum personnel realize that it was gone. The museum reported the theft to the police in November, 2001, and the work has been listed on Interpol’s Stolen Works of Art database since then.

Once the authenticity of the painting and was confirmed, Loretta Lynch, then US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and now Attorney General, filed a civil forfeiture complaint which allows the government to gain legal title to a forfeited good and, in this case, to return it to its rightful owner. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah R. Saldaña officially handed over the painting to Frédéric Doré, Deputy Chief of Mission of France at a ceremony at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., on August 13th.

While the museum is keen to kill the fatted calf and display its prodigal daughter as soon as she gets home, La Coiffeusse is going to need some recovery time. In the (at least) 14 years since the theft, the painting has significantly deteriorated. Apparently the thieves and whoever else has put their hands on it over the course of a decade and a half treated it like the 30 euro handicraft they claimed it was. It will require extensive conservation before it can be exhibited.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Period or Not…Names

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2015-08-17 11:07

This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence..  There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period.  If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.

Today’s name is Victoria.

I was asked recently about the female name “Victoria.”  Victoria is, in fact, a period name in multiple cultures.  It can be documented in 16th century Spain[1], Portugal[2], Italy[3], Germany[4] and, of course, England.[5]  The variant Victoire is found in France.[6]  We also find Victory as a female name in 16th century English.[7]

[1]  Victoria Roldorar; Female; Christening; 17 Nov 1599; Malgrat, Barcelona, Spain; Batch: C89273-4 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F5VL-Y52).

[2]  Victoria Ros; Female; Marriage; 20 Apr 1550; Espírito Santo, Calheta, Madeira, Funchal, Portugal; Batch: M88009-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F2ZC-N6L).

[3]  “Names from an Early 16th C Census of Rome” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/italian/leofemfreq.html) and “Early 16th C Names from Naples” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/italian/frattaminore.html).

[4]  Victoria Bainhardt; Female; Marriage; 23 Sep 1583; Brackenheim, Württemberg, Germany; Batch: M95512-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NCJ6-V6Y).

[5]  Victoria Marshall; Female; Christening; 08 Jun 1589; Darrington,  York, England; Batch: P00759-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NP5X-Q56).

[6]  “Late Period French Feminine Names” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/french/latefrench.html).

[7]  Victory Milles; Female; Christening; 22 Mar 1553; Wartling, Sussex, England; Batch: C14798-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NY45-LY1).

Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: heraldry, names

Inside Blakemere: Notes from the Yearly Accounts of a Late Medieval Household

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-08-17 09:27

The East Kingdom Gazette brings us an interesting look at the management of medieval households in their on-going research paper series. This paper is by Mistress Aildreda de Tamworthe, of the Barony of Carolingia, and is drawn from her study of the management of medieval households in England.

You can find this series at the EK Gazette here.

The Æthelmearc Gazette will be calling for research papers for our own series soon, so start getting your articles ready!

Categories: SCA news sites

On the Scheduling of Awards

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2015-08-16 22:05
In response to a question on the East Kingdom Facebook group, I wrote the following post about how awards are scheduled, at least for Caoilfhionn’s and my time on the Throne. Here is the process when we give an award. It may vary slightly reign to reign, but I believe that this is a good general outline.
  1. We set our Royal Progress calendar. It is based around required events, visiting several parts of the Kingdom, events we really want to attend, and our availability (in that order).
  2. We make decisions about who we will give various awards to (after pollings if applicable). This is usually started by a recommendations. So, if you feel someone deserves an award, write a recommendation.
  3. We send these off to our Royal Scheduler. This job is essential, difficult, and totally under-appreciated. The scheduler reaches out to people around the award recipient to figure out at what event the award(s) should be given, based on some of the following:
    1. What events are left of the Royals’ calendar?
    2. Which of those events will the recipient be attending?
    3. What is the closest event to the recipient?
    4. What event is the most appropriate to the award?
    5. How full is the docket for the event in question.Often times, step #3 involves a great deal of back and forth, and plans often change.
  4. Once the schedule is set, the scheduler works with the Signet’s office to make sure that a scroll is being created.
The last piece that is hardest to codify is who are we communicating with to schedule? Is it the right person? Let’s say Caoilfhionn and I chose to give Squire Bob an AoA. If we know that Squire Bob is squired to Sir Kickass, then we would likely have our scheduler talk to Sir Kickass to figure out the best option. If we don’t know that a) Bob’s a squire or B) Who Bob is squired to, then that makes the job tougher. In that case, we usually start with the person writing the recommendation. That’s why we ask for your contact info when you write a recommendation. I hope this helps you understand the general process, and we welcome further questions. -Brennan, Princeps
Filed under: Court Tagged: awards

The Daughter of Dawn dawns!

History Blog - Sun, 2015-08-16 14:16

It’s been three years since I first wrote about the rediscovery of the lost silent film The Daughter of Dawn and while there have been some public screenings here and there, the long-awaited DVD and Blu-ray release seemed to be in a holding pattern. I contacted the Oklahoma Historical Society last May asking for an update on the release of the movie and they didn’t know when it would be available. They were in the process of having it rescanned in high definition and it was taking longer than expected. As they recommended, I’ve been keeping an eye on the OHS store where it has yet to appear. It’s not on Amazon, in DVD, Blu-ray or streaming. It’s not on Hulu.

It is, however, suddenly available on Netflix! I don’t know when this happened, but it’s recent, that’s for sure, because I check all the time like a proper nerd. An article this April reported The Daughter of Dawn was being released in DVD and Blu-ray later this year. Milestone Films, the independent distributor of art and classic films that came on board in 2013 to distribute the movie, has an institutional DVD and Blu-ray available on its website for $300 with a home video release scheduled for fall of 2015. I guess Netflix got first crack.

The film is in outstanding condition. It’s complete, no gaps or stills used as placeholders. Some of that is doubtless due to the high definition scanning and restoration, but there are movies this old that have never been lost that are so scratched, speckled and faded they’re hard to watch even after restoration. The five reels of The Daughter of Dawn were kept in a garage for two decades before being given to a private detective in lieu of payment in 2005. We don’t know where they spent the six decades before that, but unless it was a subarctic bunker, it’s beyond belief that the reels survived at all, never mind in such fine fettle. According to Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, some parts of the film were in precarious condition, spliced together with masking tape. Milestone Films breaks out the condition issues in more detail in their press release (pdf):

Reel number one felt “tacky,” a symptom of eroding nitrate; reel number two had emulsion damage, from unwanted water or chemical reactions; reel number three was damaged along the edges; reels four and five had sprocket damage, but nothing more.

Watching the movie I only saw maybe two total minutes with significant bubbling around the edges and noticeable damage to the scene, including a handful of frames where for a fraction of a second the very clear outline of a white fingerprint covers the shot (there are several around the 30, 31 minute mark).

Another rare feature of this film is that it’s has a native widescreen aspect ratio. That gives the panoramic shots a grandeur you don’t often see in the ubiquitous 4:3 aspect ratio of the silent movie era. While there appears to have been some cropping of the black borders which doubtless helped achieve this most delightful effect, there is no distortion of the film as shot. It fills up the viewing area of my television perfectly. Such a special treat.

The title cards are sparingly used throughout, but the first few introduce the characters and also name the actors: Chief of the Kiowas played by Chief Chain-To (aka Hunting Horse), Black Wolf played by Sanka Dota (aka Jack Sankadota), Daughter of Dawn played by Princess Peka (aka Esther LeBarre), Big Bear, Chief of the Comanches, played by Chief Cozad (aka Belo Cozad). The romantic lead White Eagle, played by White Parker, son of the famous undefeated Comanche chief, Quanah Parker, does not get one of those title cards, even though a shot of him on a bluff scouting for buffalo opens the movie. A cast listing in the end credits compiled by the researchers working on the restoration of the film notes the tribe of the leads and the names and tribes of everyone else they could identify.

The first Kiowa buffalo hunt (starts around 14 minutes in) requires a hefty amount of suspension of disbelief not to look like a very sad commentary the extermination of the great wild bison herds of the Plains and of the peoples whose livelihoods largely depended upon them. White Eagle spies this thin little herdlet grazing against the majestic backdrop of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma, and reports back to the chief: “My eye have gladdened at the sight of many buffaloes.” There are, like, 30 max, more than a few of them juveniles. At least they actually lived where they were filmed. Fifteen years earlier there wouldn’t have been any at all to film. They’re transplants, the product of a deliberate attempt by the American Bison Society to return the bison to its ancestral lands. In 1907 the Society secured 15 head of bison from the Bronx Zoo, then under the directorship of bison conservation pioneer William Temple Hornaday, and moved them to the Oklahoma plains. It worked, to a very modest extent, and today there are 650 bison in the Wichita Mountain area descended from those 15. That means the petite herd filmed in 1920 is actually more than double the size it was 13 years earlier, which isn’t bad at all, considering.

There is no actually hunting shown, by the way, just the chase, which is great. The high-speed bareback riding is amazing. That one fellow who falls off his horse after one of the baby bison shoots like a blur in front of him and then chases down his mount to get back on (13:53) is double amazing. Really all of the riding is riveting, even the quotidian stuff. I could watch them get on and off their horses for the whole movie. They just grab a blanket and hop on up.

Every skill and craft the Comanche and Kiowa actors brought to the film is showcased beautifully: the clothes, especially the women’s dresses with long knotted fringe, the tipis, the feathered and beaded accessories, shoes, weapons, the dancing (which the Federal government had outlawed by this point but was allowed just for the movie). The famous Tipi with Battle Pictures, home of the Kiowa chief and his daughter, The Daughter of the Dawn, is exquisite, even with its many colors flattened into a sepia tint. Another tipi decorated with paintings of bison with birds standing on their backs makes a lovely showing in the background of several scenes. The interiors of the tipis look fantastic too because you can see the conical sapling structure and the sun illuminating the striations of the textile walls. Also there’s so much space in there!

The chiefs in particular appear to me to be using hand gestures more than just casually, see for instance starting at 15:35 when the Comanche chief plans their raid on the Kiowas. I wonder if they’re at least in part using the sign language they adopted to communicate with foreigners. An article in The Topeka Daily Capital of May 16th, 1921, reports that Chief Chain-To, in town for the showing of the movie, spoke no English and was converted by a Baptist missionary who had learned their sign language. Obviously they’re talking amongst themselves so there’s no need for them to sign in the film, but maybe it was a performance choice? Like a way to convey information to predominantly Anglo viewers? Or it could have just been a habit, I suppose. Anyway it’s cool.

Local newspapers report screenings in small markets around where it was filmed — Tulsa, Oklahoma, Joplin, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas, for instance — at least one of which (Topeka) was shown by the American Legion. I found one notice of a screening as far afield as Edgefield, South Carolina. It’s interesting that even in March of 1921 the movie was being promoted as historically significant. It got a bit of Bill Cody-style promotion as well. Here’s a notice in the May 19th, 1921, issue of the Joplin Globe:

Chief Chain-To and five other full-blood Kiowa Indians, including the chief’s grandson, Little Pony, will appear today, Friday and Saturday at the Electric theater in connection with a motion picture, “The Daughter of Dawn,” in which they appear in the cast of characters. The Indians will give exhibition before the screen in Indian dances and songs. Chief Chain-To will give a short lecture in connection with the picture, telling how he likes the “movies” and giving a brief history of the play.

Presumably that lecture, like the one in the Topeka church, would be translated live by an interpreter. I sure would love to know what he said. Alas, if there was any reporting on what he said about how he lives the “movies” and the story behind the film, I haven’t been able to find it.

Final verdict: ten stars. On a scale of four. It’s 80 minutes long, there’s no dialogue, precious little verbiage at all and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It really is living historic preservation. I’ve already watched it twice and will doubtless add to that count.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Settlement Era longhouse found in Reykjavík

History Blog - Sat, 2015-08-15 23:41

The ruins of an early Viking longhouse have been discovered under an empty lot on Lækjargata, a street in downtown Reykjavík. The lot was excavated in advance of construction of a four-star hotel because it was known to have been the site of a turf farm built in 1799. Archaeologists did find the remains of the farm as expected soon after excavations began in April, and then completely unexpectedly found the remains of the longhouse in June. All of the Settelement Era (874-930 A.D.) remains found in Reykjavík before this one were further to the west. The discovery of the Lækjargata longhouse indicates that early Viking-era Reykjavík was either larger or more spread out than scholars realized.

The longhouse was at least 20 meters (66 feet) long and 5.5 meters (18 feet) wide — the remains extend into the neighboring property so the full perimeter has not been established — and had a central fire pit 5.2 meters (17 feet) long, one of the longest ever discovered in Iceland. A separate cooking pit was unearthed with the remains of animal bones inside and stones that were heated and used to keep water hot or to cook food over. An area of red earth and blackened material is likely evidence of an uncontrolled, destructive fire. Archaeologists believe the fire occurred just after the abandonment of the home or, more likely, was the impetus for said abandonment.

Early settlement archaeology in Reykjavík relies on layers of volcanic tephra ash deposited around 871 A.D. by an eruption in the Torfajökull volcano complex 250 miles southeast of Reykjavík to help date sites. Based on the ash found in the remains of the turf walls of the longhouse, Iceland Institute of Archaeology archaeologist Lisabet Guðmundsdóttir believes it was built around a century after the 871 tephra fall. Spindle whorls found in the longhouse bracket its age on the other end; they disappear from the Icelandic archaeological record after 1150 A.D.

The discovery generated much excitement among archaeologists and the general public. The excavation drew crowds who peppered the archaeologists with questions about the longhouse and the fate of the site. The original plan was to salvage whatever archaeological material was found, removing it from the site to a museum, but that was before they knew there were so significant and ancient remains there. The hotel developers suggested there might be some way to integrate the archaeological site into the hotel, something that has been done successfully before elsewhere.

This week Reykjavík’s environment and planning committee took an important step in ensuring the preservation of the longhouse. It called for the prompt establishment of an advisory committee on how to handle the longhouse site and other recently excavated remains near the harbor.

The resolution from the planning committee says that the new advisory committee should formulate proposals on how best to preserve the sites in question for the future and how best to display them openly to the public.

The committee should set to work quickly and include the city culture, tourism, environment and planning committees in its work; as well as the city council cabinet. It is very important to preserve these sites, the resolution states.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History